Tuesday, August 20, 2013

2009 Essen Internationale Spieltage SPIEL Batman & The Huntress commission by Stjepan Šejić

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"one of many comishs i did for the essen convention in october, done with copics and a white marker"
Stjepan Šejić

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Green Team: Teen Trillionaires #1 (July, 2013)

Young Prince Mohammed Qahtanii wanted the opportunity to show his father that he could make big money and prove himself a better successor than his cousin, but do it on his own terms. Lying to his brawny bodyguard Abisha and acting against his father's will, "Mo" attended an illegal "Poxpo" (Pop-Up Expo) in New York City. Thrown together discretely and on short notice like a rave, poxpos allowed inventors to show off their wildest creations to the Green Team, filthy rich teenagers looking to improve the world with their fortunes. Mo was greeted by Lucia Lynn Houston, betraying an awkward but mutual attraction between the new acquaintances. L.L. brought Mo to her brother J. P. Houston and event mastermind Commodore Murphy, whose actress girlfriend Cecilia Sunbeam was in tow. Commodore had turned down a bid from Mo's father to buy his development firm, and Commodore had unsuccessfully tried to get the old man to visit a poxpo and consider investing in the good of the planet.

Mo was in over his head, unable to keep up with either Commodore or his own father. Worse, Mo had been uploading pictures with the Green Team hashtag to social media. J.P. noted the security breach, as Commodore explained that their self-promotional activities were restricted to uploads performed after the Green Team left an undisclosed location, whereas Mo had lit a "giant frigging arrow" for any of the many nutcases that had it in for his friends. Sure enough, the self-replicating class warrior super-villain Riot made the scene, punching Commodore and shoving a gun in people's faces.

Against the protests of J.P., Commodore had been working his way toward turning the Green Team into actual super-heroes. Abisha stepped in to defend the Prince against Riot, and the detraction allowed Commodore to activate discs purchased from a "sketchy" source that provided him with a suit of power armor. Unfortunately, he wasn't at all well versed in how to use it. Meanwhile, Mo commandeered a laser on display that could be directed by a smart phone to retaliate, but Riot was already taking hostages...

"Riot Act" was by Art Baltazar & Franco and Ig Guara & J. P. Mayer.

New 52's Day

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

"The Way of the Warrior" Podcast Part 1

Luke Jaconetti is an infrequent contributor here at DC Bloodlines, plus he’s a brother in the Justice League of Bloggers with his Hawkman page Being Carter Hall. Recently, Luke guest-starred on Shawn Engel’s Green Lantern podcast Just One of the Guys, covering the “Way of the Warrior” crossover.

Guy Gardner had been fighting with Hal Jordan over who would serve as Green Lantern of Earth. When he lost, Guy spent a mini-series looking for a new source of power to continue being a super-hero, which ended up being the yellow Qwardian power ring stolen off the corpse of Sinestro. After a little over a year in his own series, Guy learned that the Green Lantern Corp had been destroyed by a Hal Jordan driven mad by the destruction of Coast City. Gardner led a team of powerful heroes against Hal, but the unit failed. Gardner's power ring was destroyed, and after another quest, Guy Gardner gained the ability to turn his body into a shifting variety of weapons thanks to an unknown alien Vuldarian heritage, and took on the codename Warrior. This attracted the Tormocks, who had been enemies of the Vuldarians before they had been wiped out, and now sought their last living representative.

Meanwhile, the greatest heroes of the DC Universe were brought together by Ganthet the Guardian to assist the last remaining Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner. Hal Jordan, now calling himself Parallax, wanted Rayner's ring for his collection...

I thought folks might like to give these podcast episodes a listen, which you can download here. I was fairly fit to burst with comments, so I'll take advantage of promoting the podcast and run them below.

Green Lantern #63 (Begins at 8:11)
I’m not sure if I ever actually read “Parallax View”… I may have just thumbed through it. I never committed to Ron Marz’s Green Lantern run, but guest stars and events kept me coming back so often, I probably ended up with a quarter or more of it in my longboxes. Most of it was alright, but this one always struck me as pure stunt-- all sizzle and not a bite of steak. Also, in 1995 I was not following books for Martian Manhunter, but was most certainly doing so for Wonder Woman. Alas, no Diana, no dice.

I like how each of the Green Lanterns had their own personal types of ring constructs. Alan Scott seemed to favor Arthurian imagery and flames. John Stewart’s intricate designs were my favorite, but Kyle Rayner’s pop culture/anime stuff was cute. Guy Garner’s should have been more violent and over the top, like something from Looney Tunes mixed with Rambo, which is sort of how he manifested during his Warrior days. Hal Boredan always had the most low-to-middlebrow constructs, which suits him, but it’s also one of many reasons I can’t stand the dude.

Following Zero Hour, Oliver Queen shaved off his goatee, and occasionally wore the same type of suit most associated with his son Connor Hawke. He was still alive in the summer of 1995, as he wouldn’t perish until the following year’s Green Arrow #100-101. Like two peas in a douchebag, I have about as much regard for Ollie as I do Hal. I could see him stiffing a waitress on a tip over some trumped up grounds, but that would have nothing to do with his being a liberal. If anything, evidence would suggest a liberal would be a better tipper, even if you subscribe to the notion of their being elitists looking to “take care” of the “lower classes.” Tightwad conservatives, bootstrap Randians, and faux-Christians who can’t imagine tipping more than they tithe are far more likely to stiff the service industry.

Black Canary was a brunette who wore a blond wig as a disguise until the first Black Canary/Oracle: Birds of Prey special in 1996. There was always fan confusion on the matter, so DC finally gave up and had Dinah start dying her hair instead.

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1994 Zero Arrow Green Arrow redesign style guide turnaround by Mike Norton & Scott Hanna

I read X-Men comics throughout the ‘80s, and even when I dropped the actual books in the early ‘90s, I still followed the ersatz versions in the Avengers, New Titans and Justice League lines. The League was the least suited to ape the mutants, since they were still straightforward super-heroes working with the U.N., and their interpersonal dynamics were never familial/unified by minority. Thanks to all the Post-Crisis reboots and the bias against the comedy in JLI, only the dregs of DC Comics were made available across three team books, and DC has never been as egalitarian as Marvel to boot. Evidence of DC’s contempt for Wonder Woman includes her being forced to lead J.L.A. teams that included Nuklon, Obsidian, Crimson Fox, Metamorpho, de-powered Fire, Icemaiden, Agent Liberty, Black Condor, Maxima, de-powered/Liefeld-armored Booster Gold, Blue Devil, El Diablo, and the Yazz as members. I don’t miss any of those series, but the last year and a half of Justice League Task Force under Christopher Priest are very good reading involving some seriously underwhelming characters legitimized by the book’s overall quality. Bucking the contemporary trends, the Neal Adams/John Buscema influence seen in artists Sal Velluto and Ramon Bernardo holds up better two decades on than the Image wannabes.

I was a fan of the Giffen/DeMatteis JLI, but I didn’t bother with Jurgens’ awful continuation until years after initial publication. As a Wonder Woman fan, I decided to use the #0 issue to jump back on Justice League America in 1994, and suffered through a year of miserable crap that mostly continued/wrapped storylines from the deservedly cancelled Justice League Europe from which the “new” creative team had come. The book finally began to improve after the “Way of the Warrior” crossover, to the point that I was almost sorry to see it go in 1996. Those Flicker appearances bugged me, because he was never properly introduced in J.L.A., under the assumption that he’d be familiar to Green Lantern readers and the rest of us could go screw.

Guy Gardner: Warrior #32 (Begins at 45:33)
I jumped on Guy Gardener with #20, totally dug it through #25, bought all the back issues, and watched its steady decline from there. Decent crossovers and surprisingly great fill-in artists buoyed the book for a while, but in retrospect "The Way of the Warrior" was when the wheels fell off. The plot was a stupid disjointed mess, and after this issue, the art and storytelling on the flagship book of the event was the worst of the lot. After Chuck Dixon and Beau Smith had spent over a year turning Guy into a respectable hero, it seemed like this one violent temper tantrum was throwing all that effort into the trash. I was cool with the new costume and tats so long as Mitch Byrd was drawing them, but nobody else made it work for me. Smith had a terrible habit in these issues of having every damned character tell the readers fawningly how much more powerful Guy was and how much he had changed. The hard sell was sickening, like everyone was breaking character mid-show to sell Marlboros or Ovaltine. Hawkman did a nice job announcing his primary role in the crossover by ordering Extreme Justice and the JLTF to fall in and prepare for war.

There have never been a lot of female artists in comics, and especially in 1995, the ones who were had "girlie" styles that weren't in step with the times. For a while, Joyce Chin was the only woman who could hang in the Chromium Age. She wasn't at 100% by this point, but I liked her work, and watched it improve through another project with Beau Smith, Wynonna Earp. Most of this issue is kind of rough, with a few exceptionally bad panels, but there were others where Chin strutted. Wonder Woman, Tigerman and Arisia came out best. Chin's married to Arthur Adams, by the way.

I hate it when Christ imagery is used in relation to Superman. He was created by Jews as a diaspora allegory with an origin story cribbed from Moses who continues to act more like the Zionist conception of a messiah than the Christian one. The most Christlike DC icon should be Wonder Woman, created by gentiles espousing a universal approach to redemption in line with the school of Hillel. Even her predilection for BDSM recalls the Passion. Luke’s description of her compassion and “bountiful love” is spot on, so when she runs around stabbing people and choking them with her lasso, it might as well be a cat o’ nine tails. I liked Guy Gardner in JLI, but I became for a time a devoted fan of the character after his thoughtful interaction with Wonder Woman in Warrior #20. I came for the Amazing Amazon’s guest appearance, and stayed because Beau Smith impressed the hell out of me with that moment. It’s a shame he never wrote the character in her own book, as his handling was better than most of the folks who did.

Justice League America #101 (Begins at 1:14:45)
I knew that I no longer my Hawkman collection, but I thought for sure J.L.A. was still somewhere around the house. So much for certainty. They're gone too. When I read these comics (OMFG) EIGHTEEN YEARS AGO, I didn't realize that Obsidian was supposed to be gay. I just thought he was suicidally depressed and annoyingly needy.

I met Chuck Wojtkiewicz at the 2000 San Diego Comi-Con. If I recall correctly, he pronounced his name “Voight-kev-itch.” It took me a long while to warm to his work, but by the end of his run I was really into his expressive figures and voluptuous ladies. I inquired about buying some of his art, including pages from a rejected New Gods proposal. He was asking $200-250 at a time when I’d been spoiled by $40-100 pages by bigger names in the early days of eBay. Good stuff though. Like a lot of guys after the bust, he moved on to animation, and then into video games (including design work on the DCU MMORPG.)

Hawkman #22 (Begins at 1:24:23)
It’s funny when Luke characterizes the Hawkman/Guy Gardner team-up as true “warriors.” Katar Hol’s more reluctant, contemplative soldier/policeman seemed to match that more than the zealous bloodletting of the avatar/Hawkgod version. Meanwhile, Guy always seemed puffed up playing as a tough guy, even though he was just a gym teacher, unlike his hero cop brother. See also the subdued attitude of the ex-marine sniper John Stewart versus the swagger of the civvie Guy. I guess “Weekend Warrior” doesn’t have the same ring to it.

At the time, it drove me nuts that Wonder Woman was featured so prominently on covers for this crossover, and in a book written by William Messner-Loebs, but did not join in with her own title. In retrospect, this took place during the writer’s final arc on the title, so there was no room for her to get involved. Mike Deodato Jr. was leaving with #100, and I believe Messner-Loebs was pushed off the title after three years to make room for John Byrne. Diana’s little known stint as a back-up dancer for C+C Music Factory was her sad stab at Doomsday/Knightfall infamy, and if you think it looked bad in black, you should have seen Brian Bolland’s garishly colored original design (I think I remember a red or pink Exposé mini-jacket.) Both the redesign and the arrival of Artemis were a commentary on/satire of the Chromium Age, as best as I can tell. Then again, Messner-Loebs joined Ed Benes for an Artemis mini-series, so maybe it was an example of totally selling out. Both Guy Gardner and Diana were on that series of crappy holofoil silhouette 100th issue covers within months of one another. Messner-Loebs was off Hawkman just a few months later, then he took over Thor from Warren Ellis for his last good run in the comics industry.

Monday, August 5, 2013

2008 Green Lantern Guy Gardner Wizard World Chicago Comic Con Commission

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"Wizard World Chicago 2008 - Scanned in from sketchbook"
Mike Norton

Friday, August 2, 2013

Fanboy Funky Fashion: Nightwing

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Dick Grayson is one of my lifelong favorite heroes. It was swell when he transitioned from Robin to Nightwing, except for the "Disco Elvis" v-neck vampire collar jumpsuit designed by George Perez. Tom Grummett tried to modernize his gear in the early '90s, but turning yellow feathers into actual wings and adorning Dick with a mullet arguably made the problems worse. Around 1994, I was obsessed with working out an improved design, as evidenced by this page of tiny doodles and color tests. I did finally arrive at a costume that I was very happy with... so happy that I didn't want to give it away to DC Comics. Instead, I developed a new character around that suit, variations of which I erased from the above aesthetic assault.

Pooping on the DCU